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December 19, 2007


Sponsor Update:  Our friends at Jones Lang LaSalle recently wrapped up the $262M sale of JP Morgan Investment Management’s Union Square, a two-building, 610k SF office complex in NE DC, to LA-based CIM Group.  Congrats!

To follow up our piece on the old convention center site, we sat down yesterday with Washington Convention and Tourism Corporation CEO Bill Hanbury to find out the status of that new $600M 1140 room “convention headquarters hotel” we keep thinking will spring up any day at the corner of 9th and Mass.  Hmm, things seem to have slowed down since an announcement in September that it was going forward. 

Exposed brick?  Funky decorations?  Historic?  We met Bill at his 901 7th St. office – which he calls a “quintessential Douglas Jemal building”:  The WCTC partnered with Douglas in ’02 to gut and renovate the space.

We’ve heard Bob Johnson might have backed away from the partnership with Marriott and the City—Bill wouldn’t comment.  But he was pretty clear about the impact of delay.  He says $250M has been lost in “convention spending” for 2008 through 2012 due to delays:  cancellations or DC not being allowed to bid “until meeting planners see cranes, not press releases.”  Just recently, he said, the College of Surgeons and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons turned away.  He says he’s not talking about meetings going to the Gaylord, but to Las Vegas, San Francisco, or Chicago. (Our unanswered question: Do we need a new investor?)


Bill showed us the site of the proposed headquarters hotel – it’s right behind the tree and flagpole – a quick walk to the convention center right around the corner.

Bill tells us DC is the only first tier city in America that doesn’t have a headquarters hotel next to its convention center.   WCTC is an independent company that gets a lot of its annual $15M budget from city hotel taxes to promote tourism to DC and market for the convention center.  Bill says his biggest challenge is to aggregate hotel inventory.  For instance, in Chicago, a convention requiring 3000 room nights could be booked in six hotels within close proximity to the convention center; in DC that same convention would require upwards of 20 hotels spilling out into VA and MD.  Bill says groups don’t want to make their members take cabs and public transport; they want to walk across the street.  Despite all this, he says the hotel industry has been doing pretty well.  He’s more concerned about enough capacity and appeal in the future—they already deal with people booking rooms for 2017, ’18, and ’19.

Last night, we dropped by Old Ebbitt Grill as Broadway Partners hosted a holiday appreciation party for their local officials as well as their ace leasing brokers from Cassidy & Pinkard Colliers.  In recent times Broadway picked up a number of Beacon properties like 2445 M, 1615 L, 8180 and 8200 Greensboro Drive, and One Fair Oaks, part of their national 20M SF.  A special touch was that top New York management came down as well. From left, Broadway national head of leasing Greg Green and asset manager Anthony Chang; Cassidy’s David Scully; Broadway head of east region leasing Whitney Meyer; and Cassidy’s Dennis Turner and Richard Tonner.  A Virginia Tech alum, David’s on his way with his wife to the Orange Bowl—but that’s not their big excitement; they’re also expecting their first child.  

Yesterday, we were pleased to join our new friends from ABC of Virginia's branding committee at Da Domenico in Tyson's for a great Italian lunch—and their regular monthly peer networking and discussion of best practices.  (Normally they meet over doughnuts in the morning, but upgraded for the holiday.)  From left, BE&K Building Group’s Kelley Milloy; Balfour Beatty’s Ashley McCarron and Alison Carney; Miller & Long Katie Doran; Turner Interiors’ Julie Mock; ABC Virginia’s Angie Lynd and Lindsay Minard; HITT’s Susan Kleinman; USA Technology Services’ Joe Andronaco; Trinity Group Construction’s Stephanie Williamson; JDG Communications’ David Street and Dennis Smith. 

Nope, this is not a wax museum photo.  Last night, our own Elliott Bisnow (right) and Anthony Adams (newest Bisnow employee) ran into Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman and being a bit iconoclastic put aside the usual questions and simply asked if he’d play them in Rock, Paper, Scissors.  As you can see, Elliott and Anthony won this round.  Morgan challenged them to more rounds, which they did, but asked us not to report the score.  By the way, go see his great new movie, The Bucket List  (in which he and Jack Nicholson star as a poor and rich guy who meet in a hospital and decide to go around the world doing fun stuff like skydiving together before they “kick the bucket”), opening next week.

Trammell Crow
Suffolk Construction
Venable LLP
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